From the first three-pointer to the last dramatic dunk, Baron Davis and his Warriors remained golden at home in the playoffs.
Davis had 32 points and nine assists, Jason Richardson scored 25 points and Golden State stayed unbeaten in Oakland during the postseason with a 125-105 victory over the Jazz in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series last night, cutting Utah's lead to 2-1.
Richardson hit four of the Warriors' NBA record-tying 11 three-pointers in the first half, and Al Harrington added 15 points as Golden State shrugged off two tough losses in Utah with yet another confident, free-flowing performance. The Warriors finished with 15 threes, while forcing 25 Utah turnovers.
And Davis' brilliance finally ended a comfortable victory in the rocking arena where the Warriors beat top-seeded Dallas three times in the first round to the same 110-decibel soundtrack.
"He was pretty sensational, wasn't he?" Warriors coach Don Nelson asked. "I've seen it a time or two here or there . . . but the plays he made, the dominance he created on both ends of the floor - just tons of stuff you wish everybody would be able to do, but not many can."
Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is tomorrow night in Oakland, with Game 5 back in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.
After Utah cut Golden State's 30-point lead in half during the fourth quarter, Davis closed the door, punctuating yet another memorable spring night with a vicious one-handed dunk into the mug of shot-blocking specialist Andrei Kirilenko with 2:48 left.
"It was like he put his whole body in the rim," Richardson marveled.
Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who landed gracelessly in California after riding high from Wednesday's emotional overtime victory in Game 2. Deron Williams added 14 points and six assists, but Golden State stretched its 21-point halftime lead to 30 midway through the third quarter before the Jazz finally responded.
"You get into a groove, and they certainly were in one," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We couldn't shoot the ball quick enough, which is certainly to our disadvantage. They were playing us strong and knowing where the ball was going to go."
Davis produced a personal highlight reel in the second half after Golden State faltered, mixing spinning passes and jumpers with the dunk that will live for decades in NBA highlight reels. Davis even got a technical foul after throwing it down, apparently for excessive celebration - but the screaming arena backed him up.
After the highs of knocking off Dallas, Golden State struggled through the series' first two games in Utah.
* Dirk Nowitzki has been chosen as the NBA's MVP for leading the Dallas Mavericks to one of the best regular seasons in league history, a team official told the Associated Press.
The formal announcement will come Tuesday at a news conference, said the team official, who requested anonymity because the announcement is pending.
Nowitzki and the Mavericks went from a league-best 67 wins to a stunning first-round elimination by eighth-seeded Golden State, with the big German quite un-MVP-like for most of the series.
Voting was completed before the playoffs.
Nowitzki becomes the first MVP in 25 years not to win a single playoff series. It last happened to Houston's Moses Malone in 1981-82. He also likely will be remembered for the fact he's the first European honoree, and the first not to have attended a U.S. high school or college.
Nowitzki's victory ends the 2-year reign of his good friend and former teammate, Steve Nash, of Phoenix.
Nowitzki led the Mavericks in scoring (24.6 points per game) and rebounding (8.9 per game).
In another matter, the Mavericks exercised their option on center DeSagana Diop. *